Already into the 12th week of American Hockey League action, the playoff picture is becoming clearer, albeit very early into the season. A dynamic group of clubs sits atop of the league, making themselves known as Calder Cup contenders. The Hockey Writers gives their take on all 30 AHL teams and where they rank below.
1. Springfield Falcons (18-4-1-2)
Springfield takes over the top spot in our rankings this week, with Grand Rapids falling back one spot to number two. The Falcons are 7-1-1-1 in their last ten games and enter this week on a five game point streak (4-0-0-1).
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th at Providence and 21st at Hartford
2. Grand Rapids Griffins (19-5-1-1)
Last season’s Calder Cup champions continue to dominate the Western Conference in the AHL, currently sitting second in the conference. They’ve outscored their opponents by 41 goals this season (100-59) and have hit the century mark in goals scored in just 26 games.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th at Iowa, 20th vs. Rockford and 21st at Chicago
3. Manchester Monarchs (19-5-1-4)
Sitting atop the Eastern Conference, everything has seemed to go right for Manchester of late. They’ve recorded points in five straight games and face two underachieving Eastern Conference clubs this weekend.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th vs. Portland and 21st at Bridgeport
4. Abbotsford Heat (20-7-1-1)
Calgary’s AHL affiliate is certainly giving Flames’ fans things to get excited for. With 100 goals accumulated in 29 games, the Heat certainly aren’t short on offense. Forward Ben Street is tenth in AHL scoring with 26 points in 22 games.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th, 20th at Utica and 22nd at Hamilton
5. Albany Devils (17-7-1-1)
Currently one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference, Albany continues to climb up the standings. They hold an eight game point streak (7-0-1-0) entering this week and a 8-1-1-0 record in their last ten games.
Upcoming Schedule: December 21st at Binghamton and 22nd at Bridgeport
6. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (16-7-1-2)
Currently leading the East Division, the Penguins have battled through numerous call ups to the NHL. Slick center Brian Gibbons leads the team and is 9th in the AHL in scoring with 27 points in only 23 games played.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th vs. Worcester and 21st vs. Syracuse
7. Texas Stars (15-8-2-2)
Forward Travis Morin continues to dominate the Western Conference, entering this week with 32 points in 22 games, second in the AHL. Four players have collected ten goals or more for the Stars this season.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th vs. San Antonio, 20th and 21st at Oklahoma City
8. Toronto Marlies (14-9-1-0)
Defenseman T.J. Brennan is back with Toronto after a few recalls to “the show”, but is back producing in the AHL. He leads Toronto with 12 goals in 24 games and has also dished in 13 dimes on the year.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th at Rochester, 20th and 21st at Charlotte
9. Providence Bruins (14-9-1-3)
The Bruins’ goalie tandem of Subban and Svedberg is rounding into form and the offense continues to roll in Providence. They enter this week with a 6-3-0-1 record in their last ten games.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th vs. Springfield and 21st at Portland
10. Norfolk Admirals (13-9-1-4)
Sitting near the middle of a talented East Division, the Norfolk Admirals continue to stay close to the leader of the pack. Rookie goaltender John Gibson is 14th in save percentage (.922) and 18th in goals against average (2.46) in 21 games played as the Ads’ main net minder.
Upcoming Schedule: December 19th at Charlotte, 20th and 21st vs. Adirondack
11. Rockford IceHogs (15-12-2-0)
Although they’ve been outscored by 14 goals (86-100), Rockford currently sits fifth in the Western Conference. Defenseman Adam Clendening leads the team with 22 points in 29 games. Five rookies have ten points or more this season for the IceHogs.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th at Grand Rapids and 21st vs. Milwaukee
12. St. John’s IceCaps (15-11-1-2)
Center Eric O’Dell continues to pace the progressing IceCaps who have won seven of their last ten games. O’Dell is fifth in AHL scoring with 29 points in 28 games, including 12 goals on the campaign.
Upcoming Schedule: Don’t play till December 27th
13. Milwaukee Admirals (12-7-4-1)
Although in the hunt, Milwaukee enters competition this week on a two game losing skid. Only three players have more than five goals this season. The Admirals are led by rookie forward Colton Sissons who has ten goals and eight assists in 24 games.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th vs. San Antonio, 21st at Rockford and 22nd at Chicago
14. Binghamton Senators (14-9-0-3)
Once sitting atop of the Eastern Conference, the Senators have regressed of late. They haven’t picked up a regulation win in seven straight contests and only have two regulation wins in their last ten games.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th at Syracuse and 21st vs. Albany
15. Rochester Americans (12-11-2-2)
Forward Phil Varone leads the middle of the pack Americans in the Western Conference. He’s currently 11th in AHL scoring with 26 points on the year and he leads his team in points as well.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th vs. Toronto, 20th vs. Lake Erie and 21st at Lake Erie
16. Adirondack Phantoms (12-11-0-2)
The loss of forward Michael Raffl has been essential to the Phantoms’ recent struggles, but goaltender Cal Heeter (8-8) has stymied the tide. Heeter is 13th in save percentage (.922) and boasts a strong 2.33 goals against average through 16 games. He’s certainly a goalie prospect to watch in the Philadelphia Flyers minor league system.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th and 21st at Norfolk
17. Lake Erie Monsters (12-11-0-3)
Colorado’s AHL club currently sits eighth in the Western Conference, but is falling fast. They haven’t picked up a regulation win in four straight contests and are tied with Hamilton in points (27). Matchups against the Americans await Lake Erie in a crucial week before Christmas.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th at Rochester and 21st vs. Rochester
18. Syracuse Crunch (12-10-1-2)
Although they picked up a win recently, the Crunch are in a tailspin, posting a 3-6-0-1 record in their last ten games. They’ve lost forwards J.T. Brown and leading scoring Nikita Kucherov to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the NHL level.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th at Hershey, 20th vs. Binghamton and 21st at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton
19. Portland Pirates (10-9-1-4)
Although they got off to a slow start, the Pirates have rebounded. Having picked up points in five straight games, Portland is only six points out of the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. They’ve been outscored by 12 goals this year.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th at Manchester and 21st vs. Providence
20. Hershey Bears (10-9-2-3)
A 7-4 win against Binghamton on a snowy Saturday night could provide a spark with three monumental home games looming this week for the Chocolate and White. Their struggles against rival Wilkes-Barre/Scranton are well documented, but a matchup against the Crunch is a solid barometer of where the Bears stack up in the conference.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th vs. Syracuse, 21st and 22nd vs. Worcester
21. Chicago Wolves (12-12-0-2)
Currently at .500 in the winning percentage column, Chicago has drastically underachieved. Elite AHL veteran scorer Keith Aucoin has a bleak six points in 17 games this season.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th vs. Hamilton, 21st vs. Grand Rapids and 22nd vs. Milwaukee
22. Worcester Sharks (10-10-1-1)
Also at .500 like the Wolves, Worcester sits near the bottom of their respective Conference. They have a 6-3-0-1 record in their last ten games, but have lost two straight contests entering this week with three games against clubs from the East division.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, 21st and 22nd at Hershey
23. Hamilton Bulldogs (12-12-0-3)
Center Martin St. Pierre has provided point per game offense for Hamilton with 24 points in 24 games, but the rest of the team has yet to join him. Only three players have more than six goals on the season.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th at Chicago, 20th at Iowa and 22nd vs. Abbotsford
24. Charlotte Checkers (11-14-0-1)
Although they’ve been outscored by 11 goals (69-80) this year, Charlotte continues to grow. After a two game thumping at home against Hershey a few weeks ago, the Checkers enter this week on a three game winning streak. Things are looking up on the Sunbelt of the AHL.
Upcoming Schedule: December 19th vs. Norfolk, 20th and 21st vs. Toronto
25. Bridgeport Sound Tigers (10-13-1-3)
The loss of AHL leading scorer Ryan Stome is likely to loom large for the Sound Tigers, who hold the second worst winning percentage in the Eastern Conference (.444). Anders Lee leads all active skaters with 21 points for Bridgeport.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th at Hartford, 21st vs. Manchester and 22nd vs. Albany
26. Iowa Wild (10-13-1-0)
Having only registered 57 goals in 24 games, the offense has yet to click up north in Iowa. Only one active skater has more than four goals on the season. Defenseman Brian leads them with 15 points on the year, but is a minus seven during even strength play.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th vs. Grand Rapids, 20th vs. Hamilton and 21st vs. San Antonio
27. San Antonio Rampage (11-15-0-2)
Not many teams have struggled more of late than the Rampage, who are 2-7-0-1 in their last ten contests. A matchup against the Stars doesn’t give much hope to San Antonio in their week ahead.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th at Texas, 20th at Milwaukee and 21st at Iowa
28. Oklahoma City Barons (10-14-0-5)
Linus Omark has been amazing for the slumping Barons, who have two regulation wins their last ten games. Omark has been a point per game player for Oklahoma City, with 29 points in 29 contests.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th and 21st vs. Texas
29. Utica Comets (8-15-1-1)
At one point the Comets could have been questionable to win even 20 games this year, but their recent play says otherwise. They’re 5-5 in their last ten games, but face two tough matchups against the Heat this week.
Upcoming Schedule: December 18th and 20th vs. Abbotsford
30. Hartford Wolf Pack (9-14-0-3)
No team is falling quicker in the standings in the AHL than Hartford, who have not picked up a regulation win in seven straight games and have one regulation win in their last ten contests. Rookie Danny Kristo leads the Wolf Pack with 20 points in 24 games. Recent demotion J.T. Miller could join the Rangers in the NHL in the near future if he continues to play well.
Upcoming Schedule: December 20th vs. Bridgeport and 21st vs. Springfield